Skeleton in the Closet

Do you have a skeleton in the closet? We do!

Meet our fine friend George.

George is a little bit shy, so let us introduce him.

In days gone by, nursing education was conducted in the hospital rather than a tertiary institution. The former Royal Adelaide Hospital trained nurses in theory and practice for over 100 years. The final graduation ceremony in 1993 marked the end of this style of nurse tutoring in South Australia.

The Health Museum has a collection of anatomical posters and models from that era. George is a full sized replica of a human skeleton. The name ‘George’ was affectionately bestowed by the student nurses. He comes complete with his own wooden cupboard and a hook at the top of his cranium so that he can be displayed on a stand in the classroom.

George is seen here in the classroom with Tutor Sister Joan Durdin and third year nurses in 1961. Dr Joan Durdin, OAM, has written several popular books on nursing education in South Australia and recently celebrated her 100th birthday! Congratulations Joan.

Apart from his career as an educational role model, George also enjoyed a vibrant social life. Student nurses made sure he was included in social activities and special events at the hospital, dressing him up to suit the occasion. He also made a cameo appearance at Museum Selfie Day 2020.

Health Museum volunteers Karen and Linda with George

To see more of the museum’s anatomical models and posters, head over to our Collections tab.

Photographs by Jacquelyne Ladner and the CALHN Health Museum. All rights reserved.

Written by Jacquelyne Ladner, CALHN Health Museum